Opposition’s agenda and ground realities
How will former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, ensconced in London for the past 10 months, and other opposition parties that have joined hands with his PML-N, be able to bring the establishment’s alleged interference in politics to an end?
At present, leaders of the just-launched Pakistan Democratic Movement are holding meetings and exchanging views on their future course of action. The ultimate move being considered is tendering resignations from the lower house of parliament at an appropriate time – possibly in January. However, former NA Speaker Sardar Ayyaz Sadiq has been quoted as saying that the crucial step could be taken even before that.
The step, if taken, will mean nearly 50 per cent seats will fall vacant, a situation that will make the working of the NA difficult. The political crisis will become more serious if the PPP, the party in power in Sindh for the past 12 years, also calls it a day.
Although cricketer-turned-politician Prime Minister Imran Khan claims that he will hold by-elections on all vacant seats, the situation will not be easy for him to handle. Having burnt all boats, the opposition parties will try to resort to measures to block by-elections.
They will work for the ouster of the PTI government, holding of fresh elections and majority seats in the new house.
This is a huge task – easier said than done.
Let’s assume that the assemblies are dissolved and fresh elections held. To be able to deliver on its commitments the opposition parties will need majority seats - two thirds- to be able to bring about constitutional amendments that contain the role the role of the establishment.
Will all this be possible in the foreseeable future? Can the country afford to go through another spell of turbulence? Will the establishment let its ‘sworn enemies’ win the elections?
It’s very difficult to answer these questions at this stage.
Mian Nawaz Sharif had got a two thirds majority even in the 2013 elections but he failed to go for such a move.
And barring some unforeseen development, this will not be possible even in future. It will not be an easy task for the party in power to ‘bridle’ what is called ‘a state within state or state above the state’. The reason is that such a huge task can be performed only by a leader whose integrity is unquestionable.
But Mr Sharif and a number of his family members facing corruption cases have not been able to prove their innocence. Courts are declaring them absconders and they are not even thinking of returning to Pakistan to counter allegations against them. They have a mockery of the country’s judicial system.
Instead of countering the allegations, the former prime minister has diverted attention to the establishment’s alleged interference in politics - an issue which is not a new development. He himself is the creation of the establishment.
And unless the fugitive Sharifs return home and stand by people whose problems have multiplied because of the alleged bad governance of the PTI government (to quote the PML-N leaders), their speeches from London will not be able to move the nation.
As for situation within the PML-N, it is hard to say anything about its state of unity.
Party president and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif said while talking to journalists in Lahore on Saturday that he does not seek confrontation with anyone as he believes in reconciliation.
He said people know well he had always advocated politics of reconciliation, which is always in the best interest of the country and the people.
"Confrontation will not benefit anyone. It is my belief that the country can only move forward with consultation and reconciliation."
The former Punjab chief minister has given his viewpoint, but at the same time he cannot afford to disobey his elder brother Nawaz Sharif. One can imagine how difficult it is for him to advocate reconciliation and at the same time defend confrontational approach of his elder brother.
Shehbaz Sharif said in the light of the decisions made during the All Parties Conference both the PML-N and the PPP are ready to resign from the assemblies instantly should such a move become necessary.
Shehbaz said the incompetent and corrupt PTI government would not be given more time to destroy the country.
At the same time PML-N stalwart Khwaja Saad Rafique said in a TV show that if the resistance was adopted as a strategy by the opposition, Imran Khan and his government would be the only beneficiary.
Ostensibly, it will be a challenging task for the opposition parties to keep the PDM intact. A bright future of this alliance could have been possible if some PML-N or PPP leader had been appointed as its chairman. Maulana Fazlur Rehman has been offered the driving seat as a confidence-building measure by both the main opposition parties. But in case the situation did not take a turn according to their expectations, both the major parties may say goodbye to the Maulana, leaving him high and dry. They had abandoned the JUI when it had staged a long march from Karachi to Islamabad that ended with a futile sit-in.